December 20, 2004

2004 Red Sox:  What About Next Year?
by Steve Lombardi

It is pretty safe to say that the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox had an overly exciting post-season for their franchise and fans.  Anyone who would disagree with that statement would fall into the "a few fries short of a happy meal" category.  But, what does that mean in terms of "What about next year?" for Red Sox Nation?

For the fun of it, off the top of my head, I decided to look at some other recent World Champions in baseball who had an extraordinary exhilarating post-season - and what happened for them in the next season.  The list follows:

What about the next year?  They finished in third place, 13 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in third place, 19 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They did finish first in the NL West; but, they got waxed in the NLDS - getting swept by St. Louis.

What about the next year?  The team was broken up and they finished last - losing 108 games.

What about the next year?  They barely made the playoffs (as the wildcard team in 1997) and they were stunned by the Indians in the ALDS.

What about the next year?  The Jays were 16 games out of first place when the season was stopped.

What about the next year? The Twins finished in second, 6 games out of first.

What about the next year? They finished in fifth place, 20 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in fourth place, 14 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in second place, 13 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in second place, 3 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in fourth place, 16 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in third place, 8 games out of first place.

What about the next year?  They finished in fourth place, 13 1/2 games out of first place.

In fact, probably the last team to have an enormously electrifying post-season where they won the World Series and came back to win it again was the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds.  Will the 2005 Boston Red Sox be the first team in 30 years since "The Big Red Machine" to come off a World Series winning magnificent and magical post-season to repeat as World Champion?  If you consider the fates of the 2003 Marlins and 2002 Angels, the two most recent champs prior to Boston (who both also happened to get into the post-season via the Wild Card - as did the Bosox), the Red Sox might consider themselves just lucky to get back into the big dance.  (Because the Marlins and Angels did not make it back.)

Fighting your way into the post-season, riding the emotional roller coaster of big comebacks, and then dealing with all the distractions that follow winning a World Series (especially on the latter when it has been a long time since the last time you won), may just take too much out of a team for them to repeat winning it all?

Other than the 1998-2000 Yankees and the 1992-93 Blue Jays, no other teams have repeated as champions in the last quarter-century.  As much fun as 2004 was for Red Sox Nation, 2005 could be a bummer.  Then again, for Red Sox Nation, would a "wet blanket on your blazing expectations" type of season be a "bummer" or just a return to normalcy?

Return to Ruminations Main Menu